Forget completing Zelda as fast as possible – the latest speedrun to beat is an installation of Windows 10

Speed running has long been a pursuit undertaken by gamers, but in more recent times we’ve seen some more left-field speedruns, and here’s another one: a super-quick installation of Windows 10.

Yes, you read that right, the challenge of installing the Microsoft operating system as fast as possible was taken on by NTDev, who is the developer of the lightweight version of Windows 10 known as Tiny10 (and its sibling version for Windows 11, named Tiny11 as you might guess).

NTDev managed to install their own version of Windows 10, meaning Tiny10, in just over 100 seconds, so not far off a minute and a half.

Pretty impressive? Yes, but there is a caveat, and it’s not a tiny one: the Tiny10 version used was an old and further modified installer which was optimized with speed running in mind.

In fact, the attempt was made using a Tiny10 install based on Windows 10 1809, which is the October 2018 Update.


Analysis: Rules of the game?

To be fair, a working version of Windows 10 was still installed – well, we assume – and the caveat of it being an old Tiny10 build, further tinkered with and streamlined to set up at lightning speed, isn’t really a criticism as such. Depending on how you look at things, anyway…

After all, a speed run which was just the standard install process, based on how fast you could click, would be deadly dull and pointless, of course. For us, the hacking away at the OS to run faster in setup is the speed running, in the same way that, for example, bouncing off walls or strafe running and so on is for gamers (and often finding weird glitches to exploit in one way or another).

As long as the Windows version that’s up and running actually functions, the speed run should count in our books. But, if we’re going to get serious for a moment, this does bring up complicated questions about what could be legitimately cut out, and what features must remain, if you wanted to standardize OS speed running rules in some way.

The other (perhaps simpler, but less fun arguably) route to go would be having a standard installation mandated, with no tweaking, so the skill would be in the hardware setup. However, even then, there would need to be rules on what setups and components were fair game. (Naturally NTDev tells us they were using the fastest storage and RAM they could get their hands on).

At any rate, this is an entertaining feat to watch, especially given that a typical Windows installation will probably eat around half an hour of your life (and most definitely isn’t something you’d want to watch). All that’s missing here, frankly, is a ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ soundtrack which surely should have been the choice of background music (not the feeble electronic beat supplied).

There’s also a recent Windows 11 speedrun from NTDev which is completed in a somewhat longer, but still impressive, three minutes (see above).

How long does it take you to install Windows 11? For us, it’s two-and-a-third years and counting (sorry Microsoft, couldn’t resist).

Via Tom's Hardware

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Don’t forget your Vision Pro passcode – if you do you’ll have to send your headset back to Apple

There are a few big features that the Apple Vision Pro is missing – such as support for Bluetooth mice and location tracking for the Apple Find My network – but perhaps the strangest omission from the Apple Vision Pro is the ability to reset your device if you forget your passcode.

During the Vision Pro set-up process you’ll be asked to enter a six-digit passcode, just as you would when setting up an iPhone or iPad. You can also optionally set up an Optic ID login method, but just as with Face ID on your other Apple gadgets there will be times when you’ll be forced to enter your passcode – for example after your headset has restarted.

If you ever forget your iPad or iPhone passcode you can unlock your Apple device by connecting it to your Mac or PC and wiping the data on it, and on the Apple Watch you can use the digital crown or your connected iPhone to do the same thing. Yes you’ll delete all the data, but a blank gadget is better than a gadget you’re forever locked out of.

However, while the Apple Vision Pro also has a setting that allows you to erase all your content – including the passcode – it’s only accessible via the Settings app. If you're locked out of your headset because you’ve forgotten your passcode there’s currently no at-home way to get into your Vision Pro. 

Instead, as reported by Bloomberg ($ /£), you’ll need to either take your headset back to your local Apple Store, or ship it back to Apple to have it reset if there isn’t a physical store near you.

Apple Vision Pro battery pack

Locked out? Send it back to Apple, or say hello to your new paperweight (Image credit: Apple)

Is there a workaround? 

Unfortunately, the only workaround to this problem available to most people is to not forget your passcode in the first place.

We’ve seen reports that users with the Developer Strap – a dongle that adds a USB-C port to the Vision Pro so that it can be connected to a Mac computer – could erase the Vision Pro’s content and passcode using a Mac. However, the Developer Strap costs $ 300 and is only available to officially registered developers, so most people won’t have access to it – and we’ve not been able to confirm that this method works, so there’s a chance the dongle wouldn’t even help you if you had one.

We expect that Apple will launch some kind of alternative way to erase your Vision Pro passcode in due course, especially once the gadget is made available outside the US, and sending your headset back becomes even more inconvenient for some. But for now you might want to make a note of your passcode, taking the usual precautions to ensure that this is secure.

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Excited for Apple’s Vision Pro? Forget that, rumors have started about how the sequel will be better

Apple is rumored to be considering making changes to the next version of the Vision Pro – still some way off, given the first-gen model is yet to launch, of course – around slimming down the headset’s size and weight.

In Mark Gurman’s latest Power On newsletter (for Bloomberg), the well-known Apple leaker told us that the company is mulling some notable improvements for the next-gen Vision Pro on the comfort front.

Gurman observes that with some feedback from testers expressing concerns about neck strain due to the weight of the headset, Apple wants to make the next-gen device both lighter and more compact.

This may be a key focus for the next iteration of the Vision Pro, as Apple fears that the weight of the incoming first device “could turn off consumers already wary of mixed-reality headsets,” Gurman asserts. The Vision Pro can feel too heavy for some folks, even during shorter periods of use, we’re told.

Reducing the weight of next-gen Vision Pro is the priority by the sounds of it, with any size reduction likely to be much less noticeable (and harder to achieve).

As 9 to 5 Mac, which spotted this, further points out, Apple actually already made the incoming first-gen headset more compact – with a trade-off. Namely, the design doesn’t give room for people who wear prescription glasses to be able to fit those in.

So, that creates a separate issue in catering to spectacle wearers, and Apple’s solution is to implement a system of prescription lenses that magnetically attach to the 4K displays for the headset.

That’s not ideal, though, for a lot of reasons. It’s a headache for retailers in terms of stocking the huge number of lens prescriptions they’ll have to deal with – having to find the right one for a glasses wearer not just if they’re buying, but also if they’re simply wanting to try out the headset.

Another obvious downside is that the owner’s glasses prescription may well change in the future (ours certainly does, repeatedly), so again, there’s the hassle of having to get new lenses for your Vision Pro too.

It seems Apple is mulling the idea of shipping custom-built headsets directly with the correct prescription lenses preinstalled, but there could be problems with that, as well.

Gurman noted: “First, built-in prescription lenses could make Apple a health provider of sorts. The company may not want to deal with that. Also, that level of customization would make it harder for consumers to share a headset or resell it.”

Whether that whole thorny nest of glasses-related issues can be tackled with the Vision Pro 2, well, we’ll just have to see.

Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Analysis: Long-term vision for success

So, it seems like the weight of the Vision Pro might be an issue from early testing feedback. That said, in his try-out session, our editor-in-chief found the headset “relatively comfortable” and so wasn’t critical on that front. But 9 to 5 Mac’s writer observed that while shorter sessions are likely to be fine, they could “absolutely see getting tired of wearing [the headset] after extended sessions.”

This may vary from person to person somewhat, it’s true, but it sounds like if Apple is indeed planning to make the next-gen headset lighter, the firm is recognizing that things in this department are less than ideal.

At any rate, while it’s good to hear this, we’ll only really know how the Vision Pro shapes up on the comfort front when it comes to full review time.

For us, though, the most uncomfortable part of the Vision Pro experience is the price. Even just looking at that price tag makes our hearts heavy, as we won’t ever be able to afford the thing.

At $ 3,500 in the US (around £2,900, AU$ 5,500) – and remember, the prescription lenses will add to that bill, especially if you need multiple lenses for different family members – the Vision Pro is just too rich for our blood. We just can’t see that price flying with consumers when Apple’s headset hits the shelves next year in the US (in theory early in 2024).

Especially with mixed reality and VR headsets in general being a niche enough prospect as it is. Indeed, Meta’s Quest 3 is so, so much more affordable in comparison, and for the money represents a great buy.

It’s not like Apple doesn’t realize all this, of course, and we’ve already heard chatter on the grapevine about how a cheaper Vision Pro model might be inbound – which more than any other improvement, would be fantastic to see.

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Forget ChatGPT – NExT-GPT can read and generate audio and video prompts, taking generative AI to the next level

2023 has felt like a year dedicated to artificial intelligence and its ever-expanding capabilities, but the era of pure text output is already losing steam. The AI scene might be dominated by giants like ChatGPT and Google Bard, but a new large language model (LLM), NExT-GPT, is here to shake things up – offering the full bounty of text, image, audio, and video output. 

NExT-GPT is the brainchild of researchers from the National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University. Pitched as an ‘any-to-any’ system, NExT-GPT can accept inputs in different formats and deliver responses according to the desired output in video, audio, image, and text responses. This means that you can put in a text prompt and NExT-GPT can process that prompt into a video, or you can give it an image and have that converted to an audio output. 

ChatGPT has only just announced the capability to ‘see, hear and speak’ which is similar to what NExT-GPT is offering – but ChatGPT is going for a more mobile-friendly version of this kind of feature, and is yet to introduce video capabilities. 

We’ve seen a lot of ChatGPT alternatives and rivals pop up over the past year, but NExT-GPT is one of the few LLMs we’ve seen so far that can match the text-based output of ChatGPT but also provide outputs beyond what OpenAI’s popular chatbot can currently do. You can head over to the GitHub page or the demo page to try it out for yourself. 

So, what is it like?

I’ve fiddled around with NExT-GPT on the demo site and I have to say I’m impressed, but not blown away. Of course, this is not a polished product that has the advantages of public feedback, multiple updates, and so on – but it is still very good. 

I asked it to turn a photo of my cat Miso into an image of him as a librarian, and I was pretty happy with the result. It may not be at the same level of quality as established image generators like Midjourney or Stable Diffusion, but it was still an undeniably very cute picture.

Cat in a library wearing glasses

This is probably one of the least cursed images I’ve personally generated using AI. (Image credit: Future VIA NExT-GPT)

I also tested out the video and audio features, but that didn't go quite as well as the image generation. The videos that were generated were again not awful, but did have the very obvious ‘made by AI’ look that comes with a lot of generated images and videos, with everything looking a little distorted and wonky. It was uncanny. 

Overall, there’s a lot of potential for this LLM to fill the audio and video gaps within big AI names like OpenAI and Google. I do hope that as NExT-GPT gets better and better, we’ll be able to see a higher quality of outputs and make some excellent home movies out of our cats seamlessly in no time. 

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Forget Microsoft Copilot – an unofficial Clippy AI is available for Windows 11

Clippy is back – sort of – and ready to help you out on the Windows 11 desktop, if you dare to install a new app (still in beta).

Okay, so yes, this is an odd one, but you may recall Clippy (real name Clippit, but everybody uses the nickname now) from the heady days of Office 97, where the paperclip performed as a virtual assistant. In theory, it helped you to do stuff, but in practice, Clippy was generally an annoying presence. (“It looks like you’re writing a letter…” – well, we aren’t, Clippy, so go away).

The awfulness of Clippy has been mostly forgotten in the mists of time now, replaced by a nostalgic fondness for the assistant, and one enterprising developer has been inspired to resurrect Microsoft’s creation from the 90s.

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FireCube has made the Clippy app which is available from the Microsoft Store (and elsewhere, for free), software that puts a Clippy icon on your Windows 11 (or Windows 10) desktop, one powered by OpenAI’s GPT 3.5 model (as in ChatGPT).

You can pin this Clippy to the desktop and chat away to what is essentially ChatGPT in paperclip form. Note that this is still very early days for the application, so if you take the plunge, expect issues. Likely lots of them.


Analysis: A paperclip that needs some polish

To give you some perspective on where we’re at with this app, Clippy for the desktop was put on Github only a couple of days ago, with the developer FireCube observing that there are still issues with random crashes. So, stability is likely to be somewhat wonky for the time being, we’d imagine.

A further sticking point is that an OpenAI key is required to use this preview version of the Clippy app. If you haven’t paid for one of those, you won’t be able to fire up Clippy. As noted by the dev, this is one of the most pressing known issues for the application, and FireCube is working on a way around this that’ll hopefully be implemented soon enough.

Further work promised in the near future is the ability to drag and resize Clippy, and FireCube aims to bring more classic characters into the mix alongside the paperclip – like Microsoft Bob.

You may recall that Bob was an attempt to make the interface of Windows 95 (and Windows 3.1 before that) more user-friendly by turning it into a cutesy representation of a house. Like Clippy, Bob turned into something of a joke in the computing community, and was a concept swiftly abandoned by Microsoft.

This new take on Clippy for Windows 11 is clearly a tongue-in-cheek move ahead of the inbound Copilot AI which should go into testing in the relatively near future. (Microsoft promised this would happen in June, but that looks like a bust at this point). To say all eyes are on Copilot, and how it’ll be implemented, is an understatement (check out this recent leak for the latest gossip).

AI is very much the future of Windows 11, or rather, next-gen Windows – that and shifting to the cloud (and maybe a subscription model) – so we don’t expect Copilot will be consigned to the bin in short order, as was the fate of Clippy (and indeed Bob). That said, you never know…

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Spotify is finally ready to save you when you forget to download a playlist

Spotify is currently working on a new playlist that will automatically download recently played songs to your device for when the internet connection is spotty.

This information comes from the platform’s own CEO, Daniel Ek, who posted a screenshot of the upcoming feature called Offline Mix to his Twitter account. Details are slim as Ek doesn’t mention any other specifics about the playlist, but there are a couple of clues. First, one of the intended use cases of Offline Mix seems to be on flights where phone signals are basically nonexistent. Secondly, you'll be able to download hours of music onto smartphones. The image Ek provided shows the service can store up to three and a half hours of offline content.

It is already possible to download songs from Spotify for offline listening. The main difference between the two is the current method requires you to manually get tracks one by one whereas this new method removes all the busy work. Basically, Offline Mix is Spotify’s version of smart downloads on YouTube Music. That tool allows the YouTube Music app to “automatically download up to 500 songs” that can then be listened to anywhere with or without a connection.  

Speculation

Much of Offline Mix’s capabilities remain a mystery. We don’t know how many songs people will be able to download and whether or not a Spotify Premium subscription is required. It is worth noting that a couple of Twitter users claim to have received the feature. One person even complains Spotify failed to download most of the songs on their playlist. Although it’s possible the platform is rolling out Offline Mix to a select few as part of its tests, we urge you to take these claims with several grains of salt. There hasn't been any official confirmation of any public tests.

We reached out to Spotify to see if the company was willing to make a statement or perhaps share some details about the feature like its launch date. Hopefully, it's soon as the playlist has been in the works for some time now. Notable industry insider Jane Manchun Wong on Twitter was among the first to mention Offline Mix to the public in 2020, back when it was called Offline User Mix. This story will be updated if we hear back from Spotify.

In the meantime, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best music streaming services for 2023.  

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